Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters began the defence of their WBBL Championship title in style with an 85-47 victory over Cardiff Met Archers on opening weekend in Loughborough.
Bauendu Lowenthal had a stellar double-double on debut after putting up 23 points on 10-13 shooting from the floor and adding 19 boards including 13 off the offensive glass.
Reigning MVP Steph Gandy was one rebound shy of a double-double of her own after finishing with 18 points and nine rebounds while Helen Naylor added 16 points and eight rebounds.
The Hatters, led by the imposing Lowenthal in the paint, out-rebounded their opponents 63-28 in a dominant display with 30 on the offensive end.
Cardiff had led at 7-6 early on, but a 12-1 run put Sheffield in control and they never looked back with Sabra Wrice netting a triple to beat the first quarter buzzer.
The defending champions went on to power their way to victory, as they make it 16 league victories in a row.
Despite a spirited effort, player-coach Stef Collins’ Archers side lost their league opener with Kate Butters and Caiomhe Colgan - who had a positive impact from the bench - top scoring with 10 points apiece.
Cardiff Met Archers 47 (12,23,39) (Butters/Colgan 10, Wagstaff/Fritz 8)
Westfield Health Sheffield Hatters 85 (21,40,64) (Lowenthal 22, Gandy 18, Naylor 16)
Baendu Lowenthal made the league’s first All Star Five of the new season and a league spokesman commented: “Having played in the Czech ZBL against EuroLeague Women quality where she corralled excellent numbers, the size and class of Lowenthal really showed on debut for Hatters.
“Her performance valuation of 35 was way above anyone else and underlined why she was touted as a potential WBBL MVP.
“The frontcourt star torched Archers with a monumental 22 points and 19 boards, making an eye-popping 77% inside the paint, while also mustering two assists and a blocked shot.”
* North Derbyshire Arrows Gems women’s team picked up their second successive win of the new season, coming back from Harrogate Raiders with a 58-45 win to follow-up their victory over Bradford.
The Gems were well led by captain Kate Loftus and the strength of the team is their scoring power with four different players in double figures.
There were strong performances by Emma Burkinshaw and Kerry Matthews who both shone in defence. The Gems won all four quarters in another strong performance.
Scorers: Romeau 12, James 12, Loftus 11, Campbell 10.